First Hit: The last 1/3 was interesting and it was a long wait to get there.
The anticipation of this film was high for me because one of our truly great modern age hero’s had recently died.
The first thing that hurt the film’s impact was Idris Elba (playing Nelson Mandela) whom, for me, didn’t embody a greatness or aura of leadership for which this role calls. As we wade through this historical story there were very few moments worthy of paying much attention to.
However, one such moment was meeting and marrying of Winnie (Naomie Harris). From that point on, when Harris' character was on the screen the film became more dynamic. For my money, Harris embodied power and strength on screen that out shined the main character. This was the effect and strength of her ability to act – not the written character.
When the whole film and Elba's character began to engage me; was at the end of the his prison term and the government of De Klerk began to negotiate with Mandela about his freedom and the future of South Africa’s government.
Elba was very mediocre as Mandela. There was nothing in his presence that really engaged me to the man, the character. Harris was extraordinary as Winnie. She embodied her struggle and engaged fully with the way she wanted to deal with the struggle of South Africa. William Nicholson wrote the script from Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. I would say it was the direction of Justin Chadwick and poor acting by Elba that tanked this film.
Overall: I admire Mandela and how he changed South Africa, but this film version of his greatness, was poorly presented.